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(Photo by Dan O’Sullivan) The rule for the week at the 31st Anniversary WON Bass Nitro Boats / Mercury U.S. Open had been consistency.   The anglers that seemed to fare the best had been those who had managed to put together steady limits, avoiding the wild swings that can happen in a event on Lake Mead.

Rusty Brown proved that one more time on the final day, and claimed the title of U.S. Open Champion.

The Tustin, Calif. pro posted his third consecutive limit weighing in excess of 10 pounds to claim his first U.S. Open victory. His final day limit of 10.81 pounds pushed his three day total to 31.25 pounds and help him eclipse a hard charging Clifford Pirch; a two-time U.S. Open Champion who bagged a 15.48-pound bag to give him his second consecutive runner up finish with a total weight of 30.32 pounds. Day two leader Brett Hite stumbled slightly in his quest for three consecutive 10 pound limits, and brought 9.03 pounds to the Callville Bay Marina scales and slipped to third place with 30.09 pounds.

Brown credited three lures, and his ability to slow down and fish his areas thoroughly with the win. “I knew there were quality fish in the Gregg Basin area, so I just had to slow down and fish back and forth around grass beds to try and trigger the big fish into biting. I caught my fish on a Rapala Skitter Walk and a few on a Vixen, a shad colored Pro Line spinnerbait with smaller sized willowleaf blades and a Storm Arashi 3 Squarebill crankbait.”

He said he used erratic retrieves around grass beds trying to contact the grass without bogging the baits down. he also said that he tried to focus on grinding out the right kinds of bites. “I fished really hard for three days, after a good practice, and knew that if I just kept fishing without getting in a hurry, I would get the right bites,” he said. “Everything went great this week, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.”

He also said he has dreamed of being a U.S. Open Champion, and humbled by the accomplishment. “I can’t believe I’m standing here with my name on the same list of the guys I’ve watched win this tournament for so many years,” he said. “I’ve got great sponsors who have stood behind me in working at this for many years and it’s really great to be one of the guys who have won this tournament.”

Merlin Nunes of Vacaville, Calif. fished with Pirch on the final day, and his participation in the 15.47-pound limit brought his three day total weight to 31.78 pounds to claim the AAA Division championship. He was followed by Robert Jeannotte, who finished with 30.55 pounds to finish in second place for the third consecutive day. Day two AAA leader Scott Palumbo finished in third place with 28.95 pounds.

Place Name Hometown Weight Penalty Big Fish Total
1 Rusty Brown Tustin CA 31.25 3.92 31.25
2 Clifford Pirch Payson AZ 30.72 0.4 5.2 30.32
3 Brett Hite Phoenix AZ 30.09 3.04 30.09
4 Justin Hanold Poway CA 29.66 3.49 29.66
5 Tommy Jonovich Phoenix AZ 29.82 0.2 29.62
6 Gary Dobyns Yuba City CA 28.89 2.52 28.89
7 Joe Uribe, Jr. Lake Forest CA 28.56 0.2 3.47 28.36
8 Chris Bozarth Henderson NV 27.26 2.82 27.26
9 Morizo Shimizu Osaka JP 26.85 3.16 26.85
10 Jamie Cyphers Cedar City UT 26.77 3.14 26.77
11 Todd Herman Gilbert AZ 26.07 4.49 26.07
12 Aaron Leon Henderson NV 26.44 0.4 2.8 26.04
13 Ben Byrd Moab UT 25.72 25.72
14 Bill Brown Grand Junction CO 25.64 25.64
15 Todd Woods San Dimas CA 25.42 2.59 25.42
16 John Perkins Lake Havasu City AZ 25.35 2.91 25.35
17 Shaun Bailey Lake Havasu City AZ 25.59 0.4 3.73 25.19
18 Paul Hodges Glendale AZ 24.96 24.96
19 Randy Blaukat Joplin MO 24.88 4.11 24.88
20 Ray Arbesu Henderson NV 25.22 0.4 3.1 24.82
21 Garrett Howard Riverside CA 24.75 0.4 3.3 24.35
22 Johnny Johnson Lakeside AZ 24.17 24.17
23 Randy Estrada, M.D. Corona CA 24.04 24.04
24 Klayton Belden El Cajon CA 23.95 23.95
25 Kenichi Tanaka Minamikawachigun 23.89 2.7 23.89
26 Patrick Whitaker Gilbert AZ 23.87 23.87
27 Dorne Soto Henderson NV 23.62 0.2 23.42
28 Brett Allen Leber Dixon CA 23.35 23.35
29 John Murray Phoenix AZ 23.22 3.32 23.22
30 Josh Rhodes Lakeside CA 23.08 3.87 23.08
31 Gary Pinholster Lake Havasu City AZ 23.19 0.2 22.99
32 Steve Gibson Las Vegas NV 22.73 3.06 22.73
32 Claude Sims Boerne TX 22.93 0.2 22.73
34 Sean Stafford Fairfield CA 22.83 0.2 22.63
35 Andy Manahl Mesa AZ 22.77 0.2 22.57
36 Roy Hawk Lake Havasu City AZ 22.47 3.23 22.47
37 Kyle Grover Trabuco Canyon CA 22.36 0.2 22.16
38 Phillip Dutra Antioch CA 21.96 3.15 21.96
39 Rich Tauber Camarillo CA 21.85 3.99 21.85
40 Aaron Martens Leeds AL 21.78 21.78
41 Kevin Norling San Diego CA 21.77 21.77
42 Gabe Bolivar Ramona CA 21.72 3.45 21.72
43 Matt Shura Gilbert AZ 21.62 21.62
44 Justin Kerr Lake Havasu City AZ 21.51 2.88 21.51
45 Derek Yamamoto Boulder City CO 21.49 21.49
46 David Valdivia Norwalk CA 21.66 0.2 21.46
47 Shawn Lee Arroyo Grande CA 21.55 0.2 3.32 21.35
48 Clayton Meyer Henderson NV 21.32 3.12 21.32
49 Ken Whalen Lompoc CA 21.25 0.2 21.05
50 Byron Velvick Del Rio TX 21.02 21.02
51 Raymond Archer Greeley CO 21 21
52 Bobby Lanham Cave Creek AZ 20.78 20.78
53 Stephen Pike Las Vegas NV 20.71 20.71
54 Dick Watson Alta Loma CA 20.7 0.4 20.3
55 Kevin Wiggins Las Vegas NV 20.27 20.27
56 John Weisfuss Oxnard CA 20.45 0.2 20.25
57 Vu Au Tucson AZ 20.37 0.2 20.17
58 Marco Valdez Mesa AZ 20.14 20.14
59 Rick Mason Glendale AZ 19.99 2.3 19.99
60 Garrett Lorenzen Escondido CA 19.89 2.7 19.89
61 Kevin Caruso Glendale AZ 19.87 3.2 19.87
62 Jamie Shaw Coolidge AZ 19.82 19.82
63 Devin McDonald Las Vegas NV 19.65 3.04 19.65
64 Dave Wendrich Elko NV 19.59 19.59
65 Ricky Shabazz Rialto CA 19.56 19.56
66 Bill O’Shinn Granite Bay CA 19.48 2.83 19.48
67 Neil Flores Menifee CA 19.45 19.45
68 Matt Massey Golden CO 19.33 19.33
69 Ed Arledge Valley Center CA 19.23 19.23
70 Jiggs Benn Myrtle Creek OR 19.17 2.67 19.17
71 Rick Clunn Ava MO 18.99 18.99
72 John Mackey Boulder City NV 18.95 18.95
73 Mark Poe Coolidge AZ 18.87 2.94 18.87
74 Randy Cnota Tucson AZ 18.98 0.2 18.78
75 John Morrow Brea CA 18.38 18.38
76 Craig Miller Las Vegas NV 18.33 18.33
77 Keith Beever Aliso Viejo CA 18.47 0.2 18.27
78 Ken Phillips Antioch CA 18.09 18.09
79 Neil Campbell Fallbrook CA 17.44 17.44
79 Jay Wright Pasadena CA 17.44 2.75 17.44
81 Gary Freeman Las Vegas NV 17.41 17.41
82 Ernie Stumpf Carrollton TX 17.6 0.2 2.77 17.4
83 Michael Caruso Peoria AZ 17.32 5.08 17.32
84 Jonathan D. Demonet Downey CA 17.2 17.2
85 Vern Ridgway Chandler AZ 17.12 17.12
85 Ed Shaver Lake Havasu City AZ 17.12 17.12
87 Mike Brillhart Waddell AZ 16 16
88 Nick Young Ontario OR 15.93 15.93
89 Gary Boyd Reseda CA 15.75 2.42 15.75
90 Mike Folkestad Villa Park CA 15.84 0.2 2.27 15.64
91 Guy Savidan Yorba Linda CA 15.58 2.68 15.58
92 William Ruehle Peoria AZ 15.41 15.41
93 Shane Moline Kingman AZ 15.16 15.16
94 Stephen Patek Chula Vista CA 14.84 2.62 14.84
95 David Peltier Acton CA 14.82 14.82
96 Gerald Kimzey Willcox AZ 14.69 2.83 14.69
97 Scott Wingo San Diego CA 14.57 3.35 14.57
98 Jason Burchfield Las Vegas NV 14.91 0.4 14.51
98 Thomas Wennerlund Gilbert AZ 14.51 14.51
100 Clyde Evans Las Vegas NV 14.4 14.4
101 Marvin Barellano Monterey Park CA 14.27 14.27
102 George Kramer Lake Elsinore CA 14.45 0.2 14.25
103 Michael Phua Chino CA 14.16 14.16
103 Joseph Raftery Las Vegas NV 14.16 14.16
105 Steve Molinari Waddell AZ 14.01 14.01
106 Trey Campbell Gardena CA

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